Anthony Castonzo/Braden Smith vs. Khalil Mack
The Colts tackles will face their toughest test of the season against superstar edge rusher Khalil Mack. Mack is in a class of his own, being able to completely wreck offensive game plans on his own. Castonzo and Smith can only hope to contain Mack, as shutting him down is near impossible. If he gets consistent pressure on Rivers then the passing game will not be able to find any success, and he might even force a couple turnovers.
Colts’ IOL vs. Akiem Hicks
Akiem Hicks has been quietly having an amazing season for the Bears so far, racking up 3.5 sacks and 7 quarterback hits. The Colts interior offensive line has been solid this season, but not as spectacular in the running game. Indy’s running game is clearly not the same without Marlon Mack, as Taylor needs to get more comfortable in the NFL. In order for the Colts to find success, Hicks will have to be dealt with.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Jaylon Johnson
Rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson has been lights out for a transformed Bears secondary. Hilton played better against a ravaged Jets secondary, but with Campbell and now Pittman out, he will need to return to his elite level of form. Hopefully the young rookie makes some mistakes and Hilton is able to cash in on them.
Colts linebackers vs. Jimmy Graham
The Colts have been excellent this season at shutting down opposing tight ends. This is most likely a result of Bobby Okereke taking over as the starter over Anthony Walker (who is not quite good at coverage), and also because the Colts have not faced a tight end like Graham yet. Jimmy is past his prime, but he still is a reliable red-zone threat whose massive frame makes him a matchup nightmare against the Colts smaller linebackers.
Frank Reich vs. Chuck Pagano
Pagano will face the Colts in the regular season for the first time since his firing as a head coach. This team is completely different from the one Pagano left behind, but he knows some of the players on the offense, like Castonzo, Hilton and Doyle. Chuck might have a few tricks up his sleeve to force mistakes from them, but I am expecting the offense to have a solid game against a defense struggling to find its footing.
Jonathan Taylor vs. His Lack of Vision
Taylor’s vision has been a cause of concern this season. Personally, I think he is still getting used to the speed in the NFL and the lack of training camp and preseason means he will be a little slow out of the gate. He has shown he can become an elite NFL running back, but he has not been hitting the homeruns he used to hit at Wisconsin. Taylor getting some explosive runs would add a whole new element to the Colts offense, and what better way to breakout than against a defense that allows the 6th most yards per carry in the league.